Eating in the Dark

International Scientists Condemn Shonky Regulation Of GE Food
Greenpeace Australia Pacific, Australia
Press Release
21 October 2008

Australia — Ten leading scientists have endorsed Greenpeace’s new report critiquing the regulation of genetically engineered (GE) food in Australia.

The report, Eating in the Dark, calls for an urgent independent review of the safety assessment regime for GE food, and for all foods derived from GE crops to be labelled.

The report argues that Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is failing to meet its key objectives of protecting public health and safety; providing adequate information so consumers can make informed choices; and preventing misleading conduct by food companies.
The report presents comprehensive evidence showing that, far from keeping abreast of recent insights into the impact of GE food, FSANZ remains mired in outmoded science. Further, FSANZ appears committed to a pro-GE philosophy that is out of step with global concerns.

With GE canola set to enter the Australian food chain this year, the report sends an urgent reminder that we need better safety testing and labelling to protect consumer health and choice.
According to Professor Jack A Heinemann, gene ecologist, director of the Centre for Integrated Research in Biosafety (INBI) in New Zealand, and one of the endorsees of the report, ”FSANZ is gambling with the health of consumers in order to please agrochemical corporations and Australia’s trading partners.”

While governments and regulatory agencies worldwide are displaying growing caution in response to the ever-increasing uncertainty about the safety of GE crops, FSANZ is one of only a few regulators in the world to have approved every single application it has received for GE food products. The report calls on the Federal Government to deliver on its policy commitments. Last year the federal ALP promised not to approve the release of GE crops unless they could be proven safe ”beyond reasonable doubt”. (1) The ALP’s National Conference last year also supported the ”comprehensive labelling of genetically modified food”.(2)

The launch of the report follows a week of activities all around Australia to celebrate World Food Day. These included events organised by our activist network in Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Surfers Paradise and Sydney.

(1) O’Brien K (2007) Labor’s Plan for Primary Industries, p 20.

(2) ALP (2007) ”Chapter Twelve: Ensuring Community Security and Access to Justice”, ALP National Platform and Constitution, para 99.

articles post